Matsuyama looks at Open as learning experience

Hideki Matsuyama during a press conference Tuesday at the Open Championship.

Hideki Matsuyama during a press conference Tuesday at the Open Championship.

Hideki Matsuyama is no stranger to major championships.

The 21-year-old from Japan has made the cut in both of his Masters starts, in 2011 and '12, and also finished T-10 at this year's U.S. Open at Merion.

But despite that success, Matsuyama is entering unknown territory this week at Muirfield.

He's never played an Open Championship, and he's played Muirfield just three times, so no wonder Matsuyama called on fellow countryman Shigeki Maruyama, who finished T-5 at the 2002 Open at Muirfield, for advice.

"Shigeki told me that the wind is usually strong here at Muirfield, and I need to hit the ball low," Matsuyama said. "And we talked a lot about how to hit the low shots, and he helped me a lot there."

Matsuyama, who has won three times this year on the Japan Golf Tour, said his strong finish at Merion has improved his confidence. But translating that into a good performance in what will be his first major test of links golf will be a challenge, even for a player who's already proven himself on the world stage.

"I've never played on a course with harder fairways or harder greens," Matsuyama said. "So it's been an adventure and a great learning experience for me."

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